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Red Funnel have suspended the Captain and First Mate of Red Falcon following yesterday’s collision and grounding of the ferry off East Cowes, which led to a Major Incident being declared.

The ferry operator, which over the past 24 hours has come under the international spotlight as a result of the incident, has this afternoon (Monday) confirmed that the suspensions have been carried out as part of the ongoing investigations.

As first reported by Island Echo, a search and rescue operation was launched shortly after 08:00 when cries for help were heard and a sunken yacht was discovered in Cowes Harbour. At the same time, the Red Falcon ferry ran aground just 50m off East Cowes Esplanade.

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Thankfully, it transpired that no persons were in the water and all persons on board the Ro-Ro passenger ferry were uninjured.

Investigations are now underway into the circumstances of the collision and grounding, with the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch assessing every aspect of the vessel and the crew’s actions. Island Echo understands questions are being asked about the number of people on board the ferry at the time of the incident, with the actual number said to differ from the recorded number.

Red Funnel say that the suspensions are standard practice.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Fran Collins, Red Funnel CEO has said:

“Our Southampton-East Cowes service is operating as scheduled today following the  yesterday’s incident involving Red Falcon. An underwater survey and detailed inspection found that there was no damage to the ship which is back in service and operating normally.”

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“Red Funnel has a proactive safety management culture and a detailed internal investigation into this incident has been initiated to identify the root cause. Whilst the investigation is underway, the navigational team involved in the incident will not be rostered on board which is in accordance with best practice.

“As normal, the investigation will also consider any other similar incidents that have occurred, both internally and industry-wide, and will seek to identify any common factors. Prior to completion of the report, however, and as a precautionary measure, some amendments to our bridge operating procedures in reduced visibility have been made although these changes are not expected to impact on the reliability of the service or the frequency of weather-related cancellations.”

Red Falcon was given a clean bill of health late last night and as a result a normal timetabled service is in operation today.

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